The ACC announced Thursday that commissioner John Swofford, who took charge of the conference in 1997, will retire in June 2021. Swofford, 71, will have spent 24 years leading one of the top leagues in college athletics.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of the ACC for over five decades and my respect and appreciation for those associated with the league throughout its history is immeasurable,” said Swofford in a statement. “Having been an ACC student-athlete, athletics director and commissioner has been an absolute honor. There are immediate challenges that face not only college athletics, but our entire country, and I will continue to do my very best to help guide the conference in these unprecedented times through the remainder of my tenure. Nora and I have been planning for this to be my last year for some time and I look forward to enjoying the remarkable friendships and memories I’ve been blessed with long after I leave this chair.”
Swofford has been one of the most impactful leaders in college sports over the last 24 years, overseeing the ACC’s additions of Virginia Tech, Boston College, Miami (FL), Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville. He also worked out Notre Dame’s formal inclusion into the conference in every sport other than football.
Four ACC teams have won football national championships under his watch (Florida State in 1999, 2013; Clemson in 2016, 2018), while the ACC has claimed eight NCAA Tournament crowns in men’s basketball (Duke in 2001, 2010 and 2015; Maryland in 2002; North Carolina in 2005, 2009, 2017; Virginia in 2019) and two in women’s basketball (Maryland in 2006, Notre Dame in 2018).
Kent Syverud, Syracuse chancellor and chair of the ACC Board of Directors, commented on Swofford’s impact: “John Swofford, in his historic tenure, has come to embody the very best of the ACC. The Conference has been dramatically enhanced in every way during the last quarter century, especially in its balance of academics and athletics. All 15 Presidents of the Conference, like their universities, are deeply grateful to John for his transformative leadership.”
Revenue inside the ACC has skyrocketed under Swofford’s watch. The conference generated nearly $465 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year, marking at least a 10% increase for the fourth time in five years, according to the Daily Press. That figure is likely to increase again thanks to the debut of the ACC Network on August 22, 2019.
Swofford’s successor has not been named, and he will remain in his role and assist in the transition to the new conference commissioner.